Monday, March 7, 2016

Understanding The Latest Internet Craze - 1

The more I read, the more I find I'm once again faaaaar ahead of the proverbial curve.

Ya, Internet radio is becoming more and more accepted, or it's being discovered by more and more fans of traditional radio.  But, if I'm ahead on something else, I'm also going to suggest that the biggest problem producers like me face today is a lack of understanding on the parts of potential listeners.

Here's what I mean...
Number One, although I'm sure most folks now have a sense of what a podcast is, I hear from some friends who don't understand how a bunch of podcasts can be strung together -- or placed back to back -- to make a full day and night of online programming.  
Secondly, while I often like surfing the Net for podcasts of my liking, I'm usually done on the host website when the program I selected is over.  From there, then, I have to either load another program from that site, or conduct another search for a new host site.  And, while that might be fairly easy to do on my laptop, it's not so convenient to pull off on my smartphone.
Thirdly, I'll suggest that a lot of folks don't realize how much can be accomplished online nowadays.  I mean, the radio station I now run can be listened to on a computer from my website.  Better yet, it can be accessed by way of a simple and free app that can be downloaded from either type of smartphone store.
Fourth, sports fans ought to recall that some traditional AM radio stations were told they'd never make it by switching to all-sports talk programming.  Ya, I can remember that happening in Boston some time ago, but that station took off like gang busters.  And today, biggies like ESPN have their own around-the-clock sports stations.
Part of the reason I'm writing this is because of a Facebook post I saw from an old teammate of mine back in Massachusetts.  Like me, he's into old rock music.  So, he was wishing aloud for a station that played everything from his teen years.  I countered with the fact that I'd actually built something like that a few months ago, as a way of practicing for the new Hockey Talk Radio station I had on the drawingboard.

That old rock station was actually awesome -- and it was super-easy to put together.  But it died a slow death, mainly because I was preoccupied with building the hockey station, and not able to promote it enough.

Again, though, it was easy as pie to put such a station online, and the friends who listened to it -- most of them being in my age bracket -- seemed to love the music.  The reason it was so easy, is because I was able to pretty quickly gather several hundred songs from about 1955 to 1965, place them in seven different orders, and then program each of those 24-hour collections into Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and so forth.  From there, things ran smoothly, without much cause for me to change anything.  Oh, I'd have done a lot of things differently, if I was going to keep that station going.  But, since all that work was really just to get myself familiar with the required software and programming methods, I let it go after just a few weeks.

As I said, all that was purely practice for my planned "around-the-clock, all hockey talk" station.  And that, of course, was going to be quite different, and a whole lot harder to pull off.  Unlike a music station -- where the songs never really get old -- as long as they're not over-played, talk shows lose their newness pretty quickly.  So, such a station as Hockey Talk Radio requires constant attention, and a constant change to newer podcast episodes.

If the reader doesn't know, I've been an ice hockey coach for over 40-years.  So, I was especially excited about gathering a bunch of podcasters who like to teach, or who like to share their particular areas of expertise -- like in hockey skill development and coaching, nutrition, mental training and goaltending.  Those shows rotate through the daytime and so-called drive-time hours, while I had something different in mind for the late-night and overnight hours.  That's when a number of entertaining NHL, fan-based shows air, from about 9pm through the wee hours.  Mixed in between all the different shows is some truly upbeat "bumper music" and short advertisements.

Now, I hope I didn't bore anyone by explaining all that.  I did, however, want to give you a sense of the way an online radio station might go together and operate.  In other words, if you understand the rough workings of what I've done behind the scenes, it might make the final outcome -- an online radio station -- more understandable.

As I mentioned earlier, it's pretty likely you can find a ton of awesome podcasts online.  They're everywhere, and they're available in every topic imaginable.  As I also mentioned, though, it can be a hassle to play more than one episode at a time.  That's where an online radio station comes in handy, so long as it's playing the type of music or other content you really want to hear.    

Personally, I work an awful lot on my laptop, writing for this blog and my site, promoting a lot in social media, and a whole lot more.  During those times, I have Hockey Talk Radio playing from my desktop.  I just lost my faithful little pooch, Raggs, but I long ago loaded a free app on my Android smartphone, so I could listen to my station as we walked the neighborhood during all hours of the day and night.  Better yet (LOL), I take my phone with me when Brenda drags my butt to places I'm not crazy about going, so I can listen to my station and keep smiling.
More recently, I found a way for my radio player to be installed on any hockey related blog or website.  It's getting out and around already, and I can envision the day when it will bring my station's hockey programming to hundreds of sites around the world.  
I happen to use a special service called Radionomy to host Hockey Talk Radio.  And, while my station can be listened to directly from there, I've done what most other broadcasters do, and also host the station from a pretty nice website.  There, I can have a page for each podcaster, so listeners get the chance to put some faces and background information with the voices they hear on the air.  I can also provide news there, as well as highlight a top "Show of the Week".

Now, there's a popular expression I've been known to use pretty often, mainly because I dare to dabble with things far in advance of others.  That expression:  "If you want to know the innovator, he's the one with arrows in his back."  Okay, it's not as bad as all that, but I have been knocked for some of my hockey inventions and drill ideas that later became mainstream, and I've also taken plenty of abuse for claiming something that didn't ultimately become accepted until 5- or 10-years later. 

In the case of Internet radio, I'm betting it's going to be a biggie fairly soon.  It's way too easy to listen to -- on a computer, walking or puttering around the yard, driving, wherever.  So, while I'm sure I'll take a few arrows in the back over this one, I sense it'll be like most of my other strays from the norm, and prove me right in the end.

I've just added an Understanding The Latest Internet Craze - Part 2, and I've geared that more to folks who run their own podcasts.